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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VINDICTIVES, THE:
Nuttin’ for Christmas b/w Jingle Bells: 7”
Here’s a funny little punk rock Christmas record from the Vindictives. It’s thick with irony and Joey’s snotty vocals. They do a really funny take on “Nuttin’ for Christmas” that expands beyond the basic childhood mischief of the first couple of verses and into lines like “turned his brother on to crack/fucked his sister in the ass/somebody snitched on me.” There’s more, but I don’t want to spoil all the jokes. The “Jingle Bells” side isn’t quite as funny because there’s only so much you can do with that song. In the whole catalog of Vindictives stuff, this is far from their best. I highly recommend The Many Moods of the Vindictives and Party Time for Assholes. If you don’t have those two albums, buy them first. If you do have them and you want more Vindictives, this isn’t a bad record. –sean (Stardumb)


VENAL I.V:
Self-titled: CD EP
A two-man hardcore band with anarchist leanings. Sounds about as good as one would figure a two-man anarchist band would sound. Not surprised, not impressed, not amused. –jimmy (Venal I.V.)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
You Call This Music?!? Vol. II: CD
Thirty-five of your favorite bands make a ruckus. Features Operation Cliff Clavin, ESL, Pornshot, Toys That Kill, Four Letter Words, Nazis from Mars and oodles of others. Personally, the highlight of the whole disc was the outtro. –jimmy (Geykido Comet)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
We Don’t Need Society: CD
Another tribute album, this one for DRI, and I have to admit that, while I liken the tribute album phenomenon to walking up and kicking a musician square in the nuts for all his hard work, this one wasn’t as bad as expected. Some choice covers of songs spanning the bulk of DRI’s career are provided courtesy of Ratos de Porao, Electric Frankenstein (a smoking cover of “Plastique,” believe it or not), Hollywood Hate, Retox, Capitalist Casualties and more. As it’s a tribute album, I refuse to recommend buying this under any circumstances, but I’m not above suggesting that you find someone that was dumb enough to buy it and ask ’em to tape it for you. –jimmy (Malt Soda)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Two Turds and a Golfball: CD
I picked this up outta the review pile because the Grand Pricks, whose “High Kicks to Your Dicks” is one of thee punkest albums of the last five years. I regretted that decision when I saw it was a compilation of bands playing the same song, one that shares the same name as the compilation itself, and then was pleasantly surprised when I put this puppy on. WILDLY diverse in sound, from grind to hardcore to rap metal to straight punk to country to industrial noise and beyond. The fact that virtually none of the lyrics match from one version to the next leads me to believe that this is more a case of bands performing songs with the same name rather than covering the same tune. Either way, this was some pretty entertaining listening. Pick it up. Need more impetus? There’re exclusive Anal Cunt and Dahmer tracks on here, you discerning punkers, you. –jimmy (Hollow Bunny)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rise Above: CD
This is a benefit CD for the West Memphis 3 (See the documentary Paradise Lost). I’m sure you heard about this. I read about it in the Los Angeles Times. It has different people singing Black Flag songs, backed by Henry Rollins and the band Mother Superior. I like the premise of the CD – to raise awareness and support a cause. The part that irks me is that Henry is using punk when he long abandoned the scene. Would anyone buy this if it was songs from his solo career? No. I had a coupon, so I bought this out of curiosity. I was disappointed. I grew up on Black Flag. The songs do not have the ferocity of the originals. The lack of Greg Ginn’s guitars sound is definitely missing in the energy. If you are looking for good Black Flag, I would recommend Everything Went Black. Damaged is not their best record! It contains songs that were recorded before Henry joined the band. My opinion is that the end of Black Flag was when Henry started singing. I much preferred when Ron Reyes (Chavo) or Dez Cadena was the singer. This is like going out to see the Dead Kennedys with Brandon Cruz singing. –don (Sanctuary)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Punk Rock Jukebox: CD
So-so comp of mostly punk bands doing punk rock covers. –don (Blackout!)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Punch Drunk IV: CD
It’s a shame that street punk and oi got the bad rap that they got. I’ll admit that some street punk bands did need to go, and that the wanna-be-working-class anthems did run thin, but for a few years there, TKO picked up the street punk banner and really ran with it. Their first couple of Punch Drunk comps were great. They introduced me to awesome bands like the Reducers SF, the Bodies, and the Beltones. This Punch Drunk, though, isn’t nearly as exciting as the old ones. Maybe it’s the trends of street punk or maybe the guys at TKO are just changing their musical tastes, but this comp definitely has more of a bar rock sound to it, thanks to bands like the Generators, Electric Frankenstein, Anti-Seen, and Cocknoose. There are also songs that don’t stray too much from the bar rock sound, but are still pretty good, thanks to bands like Hollywood Hate, Terminus City, and Bottles and Skulls. The Slaughter and the Dogs song makes me race for the fast forward button, and the new, otherwise-unreleased Smogtown song brings me back to the old days, when the Punch Drunk comps reaffirmed my faith in punk rock. –sean (TKO)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Fat Music Vol. VI , Uncontrollable Fatulence: CD
Do you know the drill? The drill is this is the sixth in the series of the Fat sampler. Duh! Well they get better every time since they are adding more unreleased tracks on these comps. What me, get a Fat comp? I can’t have that in my collection. I will lose major punk points if my friends find out. Me, I don’t care. Lost many a punk point in my day. Besides, I’m getting pretty old and I don’t have a lot of friends anyway. I shouldn’t have to describe what these bands sound like to you. Vanessa at Fat is really good at what she does and is a good person also. You get unreleased tracks from: The Lawrence Arms (good track, like it better than their previous output), Mad Caddies (goofy mariachi, cowpunk for a good time), Lagwagon, Strung Out, Rise Against (I keep forgetting to go out and buy their CD), Swingin’ Utters (I can’t stop hearing Mike Ness and Social Distortion when I listen to these guys), Frenzal Rhomb, Anti-Flag (So good and thought provoking!), NOFX, Wizo (These guys don’t record enough!), and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (A Prince song originally performed by The Family and then covered by Sinead O’Connor and desecrated by these guys, making it sound like a Billy Joel song). The rest of the comp is rounded off with tracks off of their current releases: Propagandhi, Dillinger Four, No Use for a Name, Avail, Less than Jake, Sick of it All, and Good Riddance. This should be reasonably priced, so use that X-mas money that you might have leftover. –don (Fat)


TURBO A.C.’S, THE:
Damnation Overdrive: CD
Greaseball motor punk that celebrates all the bawdy aspects of the Great American Trailer Trash lifestyle. If you didn’t know any better, you’d expect these fellers to be beer-bellied, wifebeater-wearing, pit-stained louts with out-of-fashion facial hair styles. But you’d be way off the mark; they look more like foppish ska boys, what with their neatly combed back haircuts and nicely tailored suits. But thankfully there’s not one ungodly blurt from a brass instrument anywhere on this disc. In fact, they remind me of a somewhat less gruff Nashville Pussy, complete with chunky, grunty guitars and lyrics distilled from the pages of Hot Rod and Easy Rider magazines. Thing is, this big-talking strain of moto-rawk is, with the notable exception of Zeke and a few others, rarely as balls-to-the-wall turbo-charged as its own hype would have you believe. Compared to the self-referential lyrics that alternate between worshipping cars and worshipping the band’s own purported demonic powers, the music comes up sounding a bit tame. And the rebel-without-a-clue, Bad Boy rawk thing’s been done to death. Still, in spite of everything I’ve just said, it sounds pretty good to me. I just wish there was more bark and even more bite. –aphid (Blackout!))


TOY DOLLS:
Orcastrated: CD
A reissue of their ninth album, this runs pretty much along the same lines as all the other post-“Bare-Faced Cheek” releases, meaning the tempos rarely get too frantic, but the songwriting is consistently top-notch. Cover of Small Face’s “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” is mighty swell. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


TRACY CHAPMAN:
Let It Rain: CD
Black Flag said it best, “depression, got to break free, depression has got a hold of me.” I have had a shitty year. Right now, my state of mind is in the dumps. The only saving grace has been music, my inner sanctuary where I can hide without using outside substances. It’s weird to me that I find Tracy Chapman at my low ends of life. I had to have a major surgery lately and my life is in a tumble. Because of the injury, I can no longer participate in an activity (skateboarding) that I have enjoyed since I was a child. I have restrictions from my doctor that inhibits me from returning to work. I am the primary income maker in my family. What if I can’t ever return to work? Luckily, music is my solace and a place where I can escape. Music as a whole can connect with whatever emotion you are going through. Right now, the music of Tracy Chapman connects to me. Her music is dark and sad. It reaches areas of my soul which I do not like to seek. But hidden behind the sadness and despair, there is a secret spot of hope. That hidden magic makes my reality bearable. Either reading or hearing something as painful or more can set you straight. The songs are mellow but striking in their power. She can interpret her inner demons and lets the public use it as a tool for their comfort zone. It’s surprising to me that she can continue to be released by a major label. She does not fit into the commercial fashion model of what is interpreted as a female recording artist by the industry. No fancy make up or overblown outfits. Even though she isn’t categorized as punk, she carries the ideals of punk because she is who she is. She also sings from a heart which isn’t always marketable. I need her music because it is honest with what I feel sometimes. –don (Elektra)


TOY DOLLS:
Absurd-Ditties: CD
This is this long-running band’s eighth album and the fifth in Captain Oi’s Toy Dolls’ reissue campaign. As with virtually all of its predecessors, there tunes are classic, the playing impeccable and the humor level in the red. The highlight of the disc is easily their take on “Dueling Banjos,” here renamed “Drooling Banjos” and featuring Olga’s nimble fingers. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


TIGER ARMY:
Early Years EP: CDEP
Six songs to tide people until their next release. This contains four old songs that were recorded before the release of their two full lengths and two alternate tracks of previously released material. Psychobilly for those not in the know. These songs are rawer than their latest, but as enjoyable as the rest. –don (Hellcat)


THROWBACKS, THE:
Throwbacks, Everyday b/w PSA, Enemy: 7”
Fast, friendly, fuck-you street punk from beer drinkin’ boys who are quite proud of the fact that they get their hair cut real close to the scalp. Sounds to me a bit like if GG fronted the Ramones and the Ramones knew five or six chords instead of three. Good stuff. I bet they slay live. –aphid (www.dimrecords.de)


TEN GRAND:
The Comprehensive List of Everyone Who Has Ever Done Anything Wrong to Us: CD
It’s really too bad that brilliant (or at least marginally clever) song titles don’t make a good record. If I were to judge this record based on song titles like “Never Let Your Girlfriend Go Camping with That Guy She Met in Pottery Class… Trust Me” or “It’s Not a Party Unless You’re Doing It with Someone Else in the Bathroom,” I’d swear it was the greatest thing since Paul Westerberg … or at least Type O Negative. If, on the other hand, I were to judge this by the title (which is the single most off-putting title I’ve been exposed to in years, solely because it makes this band sound like they didn’t take enough beatings over the years), I’d conclude that it was music made by people who really needed to put down their instruments (permanent, like) and get a hug. And I’d be right on the first part. Probably right on the second. And I would have also been right on the third because I would have put this thing back on the shelf and left it to rot at the record store. If you really can’t get enough of bad college rock bands playing dissonant, disjointed, fragmented, angular music to accompany vocals that sound like cats fucking, then you might find this appealing. If, on the other hand, you realize that this whole thing has been done to death and that chaotic screamo shit really isn’t that interesting, you’re probably better off skipping to the next review. Which is exactly what I’m doing. – –scott (Sickroom)


TEMPLARS:
The Return of Jacques de Molay: CD
A reissue of this long-running band’s first album. It was recorded in a garage, so there’s a definite demo quality to the tracks. While not my favorite Templars album, there are a few standout tracks to be found and the seeds of their trademark sound are apparent. –jimmy (GMM)


SYSTRAL:
Black Smoker: CD
Now that’s what I’m talking about. Ugly as shit, Earache Records styled metal that reminds me of Entombed, Napalm Death, and Carcass. On top of ugly, the music is fierce. I love that cookie monster vocal shit. The lyrics are completely unintelligible. Can’t be offended if I don’t understand what the hell is being sung. But they sure do sound mean. The guitar riffs are heavy and the drums are bashed to the tenth degree. Even though I can’t listen to this style of music on a regular basis, I do grit my teeth and snarl every time I do pull this stuff out. Maybe I will grow my hair long again? –don (Chrome Saint Magnus)


STITCHES, THE:
Automatic: 7”
Fuckups of the highest order rarely can play worth a shit. The Stitches, against all reason, keep getting better. Most miscreants of this caliber just become class-A drug users and lose the ability to play (not to mention losing their apartments and all touches to sanity), but The Stitches somehow get better and better. Hell if I know how. They should be dead by their own hands by now. Perhaps they’ve got special organs in their bodies? Perhaps the phrase, “What won’t kill me can only make me stronger” applies to them in this scientific equation: “snorting so much cocaine off a hooker’s ass (I’ve seen the pictures) that would kill a baby rhino = the superhuman ability to steal a classic punk riff and make it sound like you came up with it.” The weapons they use are blunt. The music’s simple as slapping a homeless person. Yet, it’s perfect. No moves wasted. No dumb arty shit. Is this a classic punk slab that nods to but doesn’t bow down and suck 1977’s dick? Yeah, I’m beginning to think so. –todd (Vinyl Dog)


STRAWBERRY GIRL:
Illuminated Communications: CDR
Assorted noisescapes and industrial-type rhythms occupy the majority of the tracks here. Most of it is engaging and there is an obvious purpose to what they’re doing, meaning it’s not just noise for noise sake, but the proceedings would probably benefit from either some quality visual stimuli or some really good acid. –jimmy (Enterruption)


STRAWBERRY GIRL:
Cassette Cacophony Collection II: CD
More noise collections culled from limited edition cassettes. This set drops all pretense and is almost completely comprised of static patterns and other found noises. Highlight here is a series of tracks made up of nothing more than sheets of white noise that are supposed to serve as a “soundtrack” for porn star Savannah’s film escapades. Should make watching porno flicks considerably more interesting, indeed. –jimmy (Enterruption)


SPUNGE:
Self-titled: CDEP
Ska in the vein of Less than Jake or Reel Big Fish. The saving grace of this three-song EP for me was the Bob Marley cover of “No Woman No Cry.” Love them covers! –don (Jump Up!)


SOVIETS, THE/ VALENTINES:
Split: CDEP
This was so unremarkable that I seriously can’t remember what they sound like and I listened to it under an hour ago. All I remember is that they have some lyrics like, “I don’t wear spiked bracelets, I don’t subscribe to Maximum Rock’n’Roll.” Pretty dumb. –megan (Pop Riot)


SLATER:
All My Favorite Rockstars Are Dead: CD EP
Some pretty lame college pop with occasional hints at a punk base. –jimmy (www.spentrecords.com)


SHOWERING ASHES:
Birth, School, Work, Consume, Death, the Melting of a Scene...: 7” EP
I’ll admit that when I first laid eyes on this here record, I was ready to slip into my bee-keeper suit. It looked for all the world like the moment the needle hit the grooves, the room would be abuzz with a pesky and potentially lethal cloud of emo. Thankfully, I was wrong. This is good ol’ stomping black bile music – sort of screamy crust with a metallic edge. Sounds like a migraine feels. Probably not good to listen to when you’re hung-over. Not bad though. –aphid (Scenester Credentials)


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